August 6th, 2014 12:03pm

The Strat With The Lightning Strap

Weezer “Back to the Shack”

A lot of the best recent Weezer songs – and there’s really not that many, so we’re talking about a small sample size here – are basically just Rivers Cuomo singing about his job. And that’s a strange thing for a guy whose most famous work connected with audiences because they saw themselves in his lyrics, even when he was being creepily specific. (Especially when, in the case of Pinkerton fanboys.)

“Back to the Shack,” the first single from the band’s forthcoming ninth album, is a self-consciously “back to basics” song with lyrics that sound like a musical press release announcing the band’s intention to reconnect with their lapsed fans. The entire first verse is an apology, with Rivers saying that he regrets taking his core audience for granted and making some ill-advised moves in the hope of chasing new fans. At face value, this is a terrible idea, but somehow he makes this work because he delivers these lines with his characteristic blend of earnestness and goofball wit. He’s just being himself, and unlike a good chunk of the band’s more recent catalog, it doesn’t seem like he’s dumbing himself down or acting like someone trying to emulate the feelings of a normal person. The song comes across as emotional and sincere, and maybe we can’t all relate to this directly in terms of being an aging rock star, but it’s not hard to connect if you think about it as an expression of regret about losing touch with what you see as your most authentic self.

The thing about this song is that it can easily set up a disappointment. The chorus is fantastic, but it’s also a promise that the band might not be able to keep. Will this new Weezer record fully reconnect with the spirit of their early years? Or is that just something they have to say in order to get anyone interested these days? This is a good song, but it’s really just a jingle advertising the next record, and while I don’t personally have a lot invested in this, it’d be nice if they followed through on this promise.

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